Teamwork Depends on Flexible Personalities

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Have you ever wondered why it might be easier at your practice to connect with some people more than with others?

Each team includes different people and different dynamics. As you learnedin my last column, you are working with many personalities. Each person in the practice has a different worldview that has evolved over their lifetime based on their culture, upbringing, experiences and knowledge. Our worldview affects our natural way of communicating and interacting with others. Our primary personality emerges over time and remains fairly consistent, although one may have substantial shifts in their personality style when they experience a major life change.

Regardless of your current style, we all have the ability to flexour behaviors. Once you learn how to identify different behaviors in yourself and your team, you can learn how to adapt your communication approach to become more effective with each personality style.

Understand How You React

Imagine that you regularly interact with an office staff member who is a go-getter, but who is very forceful. His or her behavior might seem demanding or even aggressive at times. Think about how you respond and feel when engaging with that person. Do you get frustrated or maybe withdraw from the conversation?

The value of understanding your natural style is to identify how you react to this behavior naturally and how that reaction might affect your working relationship. Gaining a better understanding of strategies for communicating effectively and learning to consistently apply those strategies will help you to build and maintain successful working relationships.

Understanding yourself is the first step to becoming more effective at working with others. Being more self-aware helps you connect better with colleagues whose styles differ from yours. Seek feedback from the people who know you best, complete a self-assessment and hire someone such as a counselor or executive coach. These are just a few things to help you understand how you work with others and how to increase your overall effectiveness at the practice.

Understand How Your Teammates React

Different people find different aspects of their work motivating or stressful. Learning about other styles can help you understand other people’s priorities and how they differ from yours.

For instance, let’s say you have a dominant personality, and your timid technician keeps performing a task incorrectly. Instead of assigning blame for the problem or getting frustrated with him or her, think about why this could be happening and how your technician is reacting. Does he or she seem confused, uncertain or even fearful? You might learn you are speaking too broadly or aggressively when assigning tasks to a technician who thrives on details, clarity and support. Encourage your technician to not let your assertiveness prevent him or her from asking questions. Additionally, soften your approach a bit to engage the technician in the conversation.

Your people are vital to your practice. You need people who can learn to lead effectively, not just bark orders or tell people what to do. By cultivating, motivating and inspiring a team to work effectively together, you can achieve a common, positive outcome for the business and for customers.

When leaders are in it for their employees, everybody wins.

Debra Van Cleve is a leadership coach and consultant for PeopleFirst from Zoetis. She works with veterinarians, equine business owners, pork and cattle producers, and ranch and farm retailers to meet their human resources, training, development and leadership needs. PeopleFirst is the industry’s first comprehensive human capital and business management solutions program. These services were created in direct response to challenges customers expressed with managing today’s complex agricultural and veterinary businesses. For more information about building your team or learning what personalities make up your team, contact Debra at deb.vancleve@growpeoplefirst.comor your local Zoetis representative or visit

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